Interview with Thomas Cobb, author of Darkness the Color of Snow
in Author Interviews, Literary Fiction, News
15 Oct 2015
Crazy Heart is a true modern classic (not to mention a fantastic movie starring Jeff Bridges). When we found out that Thomas Cobb, author of Crazy Heart, released a new book, we couldn’t wait to ask him about it.
Darkness the Color of Snow, loosely based on an actual incident that took place in my hometown some twenty years ago, is the story of a rookie policeman, Ronnie Forbert, who is involved in a traffic stop that ends tragically. While he is serving a five day suspension for failing to call for back up, a number of pressures—personal, situational, and political begin to build up on Forbert, pushing him to the brink, of what, he’s not sure.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A line from the late poet Richard Hugo sums it up best: “Don’t know where you’re going, but start somewhere.” I remind myself of that constantly.
Who are your literary heroes working today?
So many of my heroes are recently out of the picture. Frederick Busch and E. L. Doctorow are dead; Phillip Roth and Alice Munro are retired, so I’m picking up new ones a book at a time. I love Kate Atkinson’s work as well as Jeff Guinn’s and Colin Harrison’s. I was knocked out by Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street, and I’ve loved pretty much everything Lorrie Moore has ever written.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
My freshman English teacher at the University of Arizona was the poet, essayist Richard Shelton, who has taught and encouraged me over the years, as well as being a good friend. Both Rosellen Brown and Donald Barthelme were great inspirations also.
Where is your happy place? Why does it bring you joy?
My happy place is my home in Foster, Rhode Island. It has everything I need—my wife, my dog, my cat, my office, my workshop and my bed. Who could ask for more?
What’s on your writing desk?
I’m renovating my office so that way too much stuff is on my desk. Some of the more interesting things are piles of screws and nails and a tape measure (renovation), about a dozen books, a pile of cd’s by Richard Thompson, Dwight Yoakam, Ryan Bingham, Carlene Carter and the Flatlanders. A dvd of Cameron Trejo’s film Power’s War which I worked on, a photo of me with my late friend and a paper cut out of the NYC skyline.
Which books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
There are only two books I keep coming back to—Lolita and One Hundred Years of Solitude. I taught for forty some odd years, so there were always books I came back to again and again, but since I have quit teaching, there is less desire to do that. I really enjoy finding new books and new authors.
What’s your favorite quote from Darkness the Color of Snow?
Early in Darkness, Pete Mancuso relates a story about his parents’ marriage. His maternal grandfather has cut off his daughter for marrying an oil field worker. One night she gets a telegram from him—“So, just how cold is a well digger’s ass?” It’s from a true story a dear friend gave me years ago.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I have a million. The one that covers most things is “Your ego ain’t your amigo,” which I first got from the singer Terry Allen.
Thomas Cobb is the author of Crazy Heart and the new book Darkness the Color of Snow.
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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.
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